Fall Quote

download printable here

breathe in the autumn air

How to Divide Ferns


Final Fern Instructions

It’s October.  Technically its late October, but here in Orem, UT it doesn’t feel like it.  But that’s life along the Wasatch mountain range.  We can have snow as early as September or we can freeze our tomato starts in June.  This fall has been perfect.  The leaves have taken their time changing, and I’ve only had to wear my jacket at three afternoon sophemore football games.  Perfect.

Aside from the weather allowing me to be a stalwart high school football fan, its permitted me to be continue my work in the garden.  The climate has been perfect for dividing and transplanting perennials, and I’ve tried to take advantage of every brisk afternoon to do just that.  This past weekend I was lucky enough to be the recipient of some hand me down ferns.  I love ferns {you can read about some of my favorite varieties here} but I don’t have a lot of suitable space for them.  Our 1940’s home had nary a tree on the lot when we moved here in March, so shade is hard to come by.  But when asked by and old neighbor if I’d like a bunch of Lady Ferns from her garden I couldn’t say no, and I became determined to find a place for them.

At high noon I went wandering in the back yard, figuring that if I could find somewhere with some shade at straight up 12:00 I’d be set to go.  This is what I found:

dividing and transplanting ferns 2

A lonely south-western corner of the yard home to nothing but a Diablo ninebark and a very small Russian sage start.  With shade in the middle of the day, and promise of protection from the hot afternoon sun I knew I found the perfect spot to park my fern transplants until I started to get some shade from my newly planted weeping willow and crab apples.

 I took all of my lovely fern starts and planted them just below the soil surface.  After planting I sprinkled a little root starting fertilizer before a thorough watering.  I’m planning on keeping this bed moist until my plants are established a little bit.  I’m looking forward to bunches of feathery fronds come next spring!

Free Island Planting Bed Design

Free Landscape Island

Fall is in the air and with the crunchy leaves and pumpkin flavored everything comes clearance sales at nurseries and garden centers!  I’ve spent the past few weekends rotating through my local garden centers scoping out the sales and trying to find items on my must have plant list.  I got lucky last weekend at Vineyard Garden Center when I came across some lovely maiden grass on sale 50% off.  Maiden grass is one of my favorites because it can grow up to 3-5′ tall and wide, providing substance and size in a hurry.

Another benefit of ornamental grass is fall and winter interest.  As they go to seed in the fall, most grasses produce lovely seed heads that add texture and visual interest to a fall garden.  Their blades change from greenish hues to varying shades of crackling brown, yet remain upright in spite of all that lovely nitrogen returning to the roots for winter storage.  As other deciduous trees and shrubs abandon their leaves completely by late fall grasses will maintain their structure.  The wispy browns pair nicely with evergreens to transition nicely into winter months.  Ornamental grasses can become less of a visual factor once heavy snow hits, as it will here in Utah at some point.  The blades bent down by snowfall won’t perk back up as the snow melts, they will simply lay there crushed and horizontal to the ground.  In early spring the grasses should be trimmed back, about 6 inches or so from the soil.  As soon as warmer weather starts to arrive, fresh new blades will emerge.

With the inspiration from my newly purchased maiden grasses I drew up a quick island planting bed design.  In addition to maiden grass this design features some of my other grassy favorites: blue oat grass and dwarf fountain grass.  I focused on perennial and shrub pairings that show specifically some fall interest , and grounded the entire design with evergreen mugo pine and decorative landscaping rock.  As you can see I received a little help during the final phase of the design process.  A certain little girl woke up from her nap and was dying to assist me.  At four months she already has an adoration for all things growing. especially anything yellow and growing.  My explanation of the design literally had her drooling as pointed out the placement of my salvias and heucheras.  A girl after my own heart.

Labeled Design

Uintah National Forest & Four Great Residential Evergreen Trees for Your Landscape

Alpine Loop Title Picture


There is something about a rainy Saturday.  Something that makes it easier to not be upset about the long to do list remaining undone.  Something that calls for a large pot of creamy potato soup and freshly baked rolls.  Something that demands a balance between snuggling a four month old baby girl while listening to the rolling thunder and setting out for a drive up the canyon to experience the misty mountains.

We had such a Saturday.  There was exterior trim to be painted, weeds to be pulled, attics to be swept out, and {ironically} a rain gutter to be installed.  But we woke up to the sound of thunder and our plans for working outside washed away with the raindrops running  down my  gutter-less brick house.    We could have followed the example of the stalwart fans at the park across watching little league football and thrown on our rain coats  but we didn’t.  Instead we pulled up some Netflix and made a pot of soup.  Not to say there wasn’t any work done.  Some laundry was definitely folded, and the hardwood was swiffered, but there was definitely more baking of things like rolls and chocolate chip cookies than chores.  There’s just something about a rainy Saturday.

In the early afternoon my husband suggested we take a drive up the canyon and although I wasn’t too eager to leave my cozy spot on the couch and pack my giggling, smiley baby into her car seat I agreed.  The rain was a little heavy as we headed up Provo Canyon, but it lightened a bit as we turned of the main highway and climbed the mountain towards Sundance.

The mountain meadows were like something out of Tolkien.  Varying shades of green were dappled with  yellowing leaves of early fall.  The fragrance of rain in the mountains was incredible, and the air had the icy chill that signifies the end of summer.

We had intended to go up and over the Alpine Loop but we ended up turning off towards Cascade Springs and heading down the dirt road to Midway.  Views of Deer Creek Lake were completely obscured by the clouds and the mist as we wound our way down the mountain.  It was truly breath taking, the pictures snapped on my phone don’t do it justice.

I find as much inspiration for my design work in the natural world as I do in formal landscaped gardens.  On this particular drive I was reminded about the grounding and foundational characteristics of evergreens.  Throughout spring and summer evergreens can be passed over in favor of shrubs, trees, and perennials heavily laden with blossoms, but they get their time in the spotlight come fall and winter.

On our drive I noted the beauty of yellowing aspens, and the fire like hues of transitioning Big Tooth maples.  But I also appreciated the structure provided by the firs, pines, and spruces.  Some appeared almost black in the landscapes and all ensured consistency during the mountain’s transition.

In residential applications evergreen trees can provide the same consistency and structure year round.  Most backyards aren’t well suited for the majesty of Ponderosa pine or fully grown blue spruce.  However, there are many varieties whose size is perfect for a residential garden.  Click here for my top four favorite residential evergreen trees.



Alpine Loop 1


Alpine Loop 2


Alpine Loop 6



Alpine Loop 3


Alpine Loop 4